Using an iPad for real, part 6, VPN

My trials and tribulations using an iPad for work… this month … using a VPN.

If I’m going to use my ‘iPad for real work’ I will need to be secure, so that’s where a VPV, or Virtual Private Network, comes in.

So what is a VPN and why would I need one I hear you say?

Applications running on a computing device, e.g. a laptop, iPad, smartphone, across a VPN benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is also common. Using an encrypted VPN means people cannot ‘sniff’ any usernames and passwords while I’m connected to public WiFi networks for example.

There are countless ways we are being tracked these days by advertisers, social media and other companies. And then there are hackers, trying to access our private data for all sorts of bad reasons. Using a VPN hides your IP address from these.

After investigating a number of VPN options (and there are a lot these days) I settled on TunnelBear out of Canada. My reasons:

  • TunnelBear has a free version, which allows you to try it out on one device – very useful.
  • TunnelBear is available for Apple macOS and iOS (meaning I can have the same system on my MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone), so I only have to learn one app. It’s also available for Windows, and Android.
  • There is also a lightweight browser extension for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox (although not Safari) which allows you to just tunnel browser traffic – although I prefer all traffic to be encrypted – e.g. Mail too.
  • On the paid version you can have 5 devices, for an annual fee of $60. That’s $12 per device per year, which is great value.

I find using TunnelBear really good. When installing, it will intelligently add the VPN to the device – it was a breeze to install on Mac and iPad / iPhone, and installing through the App Store means I can easily ensure it’s up to date.

It’s possible to add ‘Trusted networks’. So, I have setup my two home networks as trusted, and TunnelBear doesn’t bother to connect and tunnel when I’m at home. This has an advantage in that it’s a little quicker. It’s important to recognise that any VPN means your connection is a little slower, but in practice I’ve not noticed any major difference once connected.

TunnelBear is on my “highly recommended” / “essential” list these days, and a VPN should be on yours too.

TunnelBear (by TunnelBear LLC in Canada) is available from the main App Stores https://www.tunnelbear.com/download-devices

More reflections on my using an iPad for real work experiment next month.

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Stuart Mealor

Stuart is interested in all things e-learning, with specific interests in Moodle, e-learning strategy, and business development. His experience in education over 30 years, MBA in International Business, and knowledge of e-learning systems implementation, together with graphic design background, give him a unique skill set for e-learning projects.

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